Freeing Ourselves From Toxic Ties With the Past – Part 1


Have you ever been flooded with emotion that seemed to be from another time or place in your life, out of proportion to whatever provoked it? Perhaps while visiting with your mother or father over the holiday season you were disappointed and surprised to find yourself behaving toward them as you did when you were a teenager. Maybe you caught yourself responding to your own children in a way that was reminiscent of how your parents treated you – something you had promised never to let happen. Where do these toxic ties with our past come from and how do we sever them?

There are three major ways in which we can be ambushed by our ties to the past. The first is through the phenomenon of state dependent recall. In state dependent recall, a relatively uncommon mood state or emotion comes up, and magically unlocks memories of all the times in our life when you felt a similar way. For example, if something a parent says reawakens a feeling of jealousy toward one of our siblings, we may find ourselves remembering all of the times in the past when we felt slighted or unfairly treated. This may in turn provoke an angry reaction that seems to come from out of the blue.

Another type of ambush happens when we are confronted with an emotional problem that is, for the moment, unsolvable. Let’s suppose the weeks leading up to holidays were stressful, but you didn’t realize how bad it had gotten until you tried to unwind on your days off. Instead of relaxing, you became increasingly anxious and found yourself keeping busy by nervously cleaning around the house. Why cope with anxiety by keeping busy? The answer to this question may be found by thinking back to the earliest time you can remember coping this way. Perhaps it was as a child listening to your parents fight that you found solace in tidying your room. This kind of reverting back to a previous successful solution is called regression.

The third type of ambush is apparent when we find ourselves, usually under stress, behaving just like someone important from our distant past. It happens because our personalities are formed from borrowed parts, attitudes and values called introjects, taken from influential people with whom we came into contact during our preschool years. Unfortunately, although we can counteract undesirable introjects as adults, we don’t have a choice as children. For example, it may be the harsh, critical aspects of a powerful but emotionally distant father that we internalize and later act out, rather than the kinder, more accepting aspects of our mother.

How you sever these toxic ties with our past is a two step process. This article has hopefully helped you to take the first step, recognizing these historical influences in your life. The second step involves tempering these influences by integrating childhood memories with adult skills and experiences. More about this in the next issue. In the meantime, if you are keen to get started, call my assistant Nancy at 881-1206 to schedule a free consultation.

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Author: Piyawut Sutthiruk

Losing weight will keep you healthy and have a long life. Cheer Up!

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